Life has been nothing but Hollywood glitz and glamor for 12-year-old Kate Walden since she directed and debuted her breakout film NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIE CHICKENS at the Roxy Theater last semester. She’s practically famous at Medford Junior High, and there’s no better time to start filming her next big blockbuster, a slimy sci-fi romance. But when New York City cool kid Tristan Kingsley shows up and threatens to upstage Kate with a sophisticated crime noir thriller of his own, it suddenly becomes Tinseltown versus the Big Apple in a race toward the upcoming film festival.

“It’s nice they’re treating me like I’m somebody important. I guess I AM the only kid in school who’s made an entire movie.”

While Julie Mata’s moviemaking sequel KATE WALDEN DIRECTS: BRIDE OF SLUG MAN presents as a vanilla and supernaturally devoid take on J.J. Abram’s SUPER 8, what lies beneath is a tedious novel about bullying that somehow, despite the best of intentions, misses the mark. There is a strong focus on the inner-workings of 7th grade social life, including first crushes, popularity and most notably, kids who push around other kids. The book’s heart seems to be in the right place, delivering noteworthy messages about standing up to bullies and never losing sight of true motivations in the face of adversity. Though the writing is solid, the characters, including the narrator, are simply uninteresting, making it a challenge to stay engaged with the slow-moving plot.

A promising concept let down by a dull cast and molasses pacing, only the most dedicated of young Spielbergs and Lucases will hang around long enough to see the credits roll in this series’ sophomore effort.